At its founding, Intel was distinguished by its ability to make logic circuits using semiconductor devices. Targeting the vast semiconductor market, the company positioned itself to lead to the manufacturing of a wide range of devices. Establishing its presence in the market with a 64-bit static random-access memory (SRAM), Intel had extended its product portfolio ranging from 1024-bit read-only memory (ROM) to the first commercial metal–oxide–semiconductor field-effect transistor (MOSFET) silicon gate SRAM chip to dynamic random-access memory (DRAM) to the world’s first commercially available microprocessor (Intel 4004) to one of the first microcomputers.
With the expertise in semiconductor manufacturing, Intel is making a massive revolution in the memory and storage landscape. The company established its footprints in the memory devices by delivering mainstream solid-state drives (SSDs) with up to 160 GB storage capacities. These SSDs make use of industry standards for non-volatile memory devices such as NAND flash, SATA, PCIe, and recently NVMe.
Legacy SSD Parameters, Hindering Data Storage
Today, the competitive enterprise landscape is experiencing an explosion in data. One of the significant challenges that organizations face is the lack of an ideal way to manage, store, and transfer such an enormous quantity of data. The operations of several organizations are crippled as the market is saturated with the devices based on SAS (Statistical Analysis System) which is a legacy technology specifically designed for hard drives. Enterprises can leverage Intel’s NVMe,— standard for PCIe SSDs—an interface that is architected to help them leverage the benefits of SSDs. It not only offers advanced performance but also brings in a faster operation.
Fostering a Paradigm Shift in Storage Arena
Intel’s NVMe technology is an optimized, high-performance, scalable host controller interface specifically designed to address the needs of enterprises and client systems that utilize PCI Express-based solid-state storage. It is an entirely new architecture for storage, from the software stack to the hardware devices and systems. Developed with a mission to move beyond the “dark ages” of hard disk drive technology, the company’s NVMe is built from the fundamentals for non-volatile memory ideologies. It provides efficient access to memory devices, from today’s NAND flash technology to future, higher performing, persistent memory technologies. The firm’s novel NVMe addresses several performance vectors, including bandwidth, IOPs, and latency. For instance, the maximum IOPs possible for SATA was 200,000, whereas Intel’s NVMe devices have already demonstrated that they can exceed 1,000,000 IOPs.
Enterprises can leverage Intel’s NVMe— standard for PCIe SSDs— an interface that is architected to help them enjoy the benefits of SSDs
Delivering a better performance that well aligns with the needs of the enterprises is imperative when it comes to running business functions. On comparing the performance of NVMe to transfer Oracle TimesTen database into a host DRAM, it took more than 30 minutes with the legacy hard disks and four minutes with SATA. Interestingly, with Intel’s NVMe, the entire process was completed in less than a minute.
NVMe, the Game Changer
The company’s NVMe which was introduced in to the data center in 2014, has achieved significant advancements in the enterprise landscape as well as in the commercial market. One of the exciting elements when it comes to clients is that Intel’s NVMe is used in the M.2 as well as BGA form factors helping the device manufacturers to leverage its novel features in mobile platforms such as tabs as well as in phones. Clients are not only concerned about the performance but also considering the power of the devices. Intel’s NVMe helps in increasing the idle time of the storage devices by boosting the data transferring speed. Therefore, in comparison with the legacy SATA SSD, the users can get much higher performance with equivalent power.
Another important factor that revolves around Intel’s NVMe is the fabrics. In addition to the in-built benefits of PCIe, the company’s NVMe can be used across other fabrics such as Ethernet, fiber channel, Infiniband as well as Omnipath. This feature of the offering comes into play whenever the number of SSDs cross several hundred to thousands to millions. Intel’s state-of-the-art protocol can be used all the way from the CPU across the fabrics to the end devices. Aiming big with the technology, Intel is successfully reducing the latency to less than 10 microseconds across data centers. Adopters of NVMe making a strategic investment that will serve them for a decade. It is unlocking high-end performance, low latency, as well as low power.
Enhancing Enterprise Storage
Designed from ground up to work with non-volatile memory including the current NAND flash technology and next-generation NVM technologies, Intel’s NVMe storage protocol helps in eliminating all the setbacks pertaining to the traditional standards. It supports multiple deep queues, which is an advancement over traditional SAS and SATA protocols. Typical SAS devices support limited commands up to 256 in a single queue and SATA devices support up to 32 commands. Even though these are adequate for hard disk drive technologies, they lack the capability to work in sync with the current and next-generation NVM technologies.
Intel’s SSD data center family with NVMe outperforms SATA SSDs, running demanding workloads simultaneously, lowering IT costs, and increasing system utilization for greater responsiveness and faster time to market. It creates new possibilities for businesses of all verticals. High-performance SSDs with NVMe helps enterprises to shrink their data center footprint, reducing costs and enabling efficiencies via software-defined infrastructure. Additionally, the company’s SSDs for the data center exceeds the JEDEC standard for annual failure rate, setting the industry pace. Its outstanding reliability features include power-loss detection and soft-error mitigation to avoid silent data errors.
Data Privacy Assurance
Data security and privacy of consumer information are one of the significant concerns of today’s world. Intel’s NVMe protocol is designed to address the escalating data privacy concerns by supporting a tunnelling protocol that provides security features produced by the Trusted Computing Group (TCG) and other related communities. Features planned for NVMe devices and systems include simple access control, data at rest protection, crypto-erase, as well as purge-level erase.
Increasing in Momentum
With the majestic features of Intel’s NVMe platform over its counterparts, it is considered as the futuristic and innovative technology that would redefine the storage landscape. Capturing the imagination of data center professionals worldwide, the momentum behind NVMe has been increasing since it was introduced in 2011 and continues to escalate. Intel is planning to improve its NVMe solutions along two dimensions—improvements in latency, and the scaling up of the number of NVMe devices in productions— within the next couple of years. Some industry analysts are forecasting that NVMe will become the dominant storage interface over the next few years.
"Intel’s NVMe protocol is designed to address the escalating data privacy concerns by supporting a tunnelling protocol that provides security features produced by the Trusted Computing Group (TCG) and other related communities"
Intel’s NVMe is gaining rapidly mindshare among both consumers and vendors. With its high-performance and low-latency characteristics, and compatibility for virtually all platforms, the company’s NVMe solution is a real game changer. For the first time, storage devices and storage subsystems have a fundamentally different way to operate with host computers, unlike any previous storage protocol. The streamlined instructions, lower latency software stack, the parallelism of queues and large queue depths, plus the design for non-volatile memory, provides previously unheard of I/O and throughput rates and the lowest latencies for storage ever seen.